Sex-positive stories are few and far between. Female-centric sex-positive stories are even rarer. Open Earth by Sarah Mirk is unique in this way. The characters are all young, they all enjoy sex, and they all like to have sex with each other. This is the kind of story that doesn’t necessarily have a ‘point,’ but it’s a fun ride.
Rigo is a young twenty-something who lives with her parents in California, a large spacecraft currently orbiting the Earth. Due to political chaos and the devastation brought on by climate change, Rigo’s parents boarded this ship for what was supposed to only be a year-long scientific mission but ended up never returning to Earth. Rigo and her friends were all born on this ship and have never known life on Earth. They are the First Generation and they are determined to not make the same mistakes as their parents. They all believe in polyamory and everyone pretty much hooks up with everyone. They believe that exclusive couples can be bad for morale because they will isolate themselves. Rigo enjoys vigorous sex with several of her friends but holds a special place in her heart for Carver, a fellow scientist. Carver is looking for someone to share his apartment and Rigo really wants him to ask her. Tensions rise when another friend, Franklin, throws their name into the mix—more for practicality than passion. Instead of harboring bad feelings, Rigo and Franklin talk it out. Honesty is key to keeping everything copacetic. Franklin understands that Carver and Rigo have something special and decides to not stand in her way if she wants to live with him. Carver asks Rigo to ‘partner up’ and live together, but not be exclusive. After their first night together Carver wakes up to all of their friends enjoying breakfast. It’s a happy ending to a story with no real direction.
The language of Open Earth is easy, unpretentious, and bilingual. Rigo herself comes off as little immature despite her fluid sexuality because her dialogue is emphatic with lots of exclamation points. Compared to her peers, she comes off as the least developed despite being the main character.
The artwork is bright and colorful. Despite living in such an enclosed and industrial environment, the characters’ living spaces are cheerful and inviting. The characters themselves are drawn in such a way that the reader can instantly understand their personalities. Rigo is soft and curvy—she is comfortable in her skin and loves her body. Carter is skinny with sharp edges that shows a more serious side. Franklin is non-binary and is confident in their appearance. The artwork works well for the story and adds dimension.
Open Earth is a fun story that centers on the lives of a small, diverse group of friends. The fact that they are in space is not the focal point of the story. The focus is on their personal dynamics, their openness, and their optimism. This graphic novel is appropriate for an older teen and adult audience. It is not appropriate for young children as there are several scenes with fairly graphic nudity and sex. Other graphic novels that with similarly open attitudes toward sexuality are The Pervert by Michelle Perez, Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, and for the those who like the more sci-fi elements, Saga by Brian K. Vaughn.
By Sarah Mirk
Art by Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre
Limerence Press, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 18+
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Character Traits: Latinx, Multiracial Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Pansexual, Genderqueer, Nonbinary